Recklessly Scaring Liberians Into Mistrusting Health Workers

 

By Jones Nhinson Williams


The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
September 17, 2014

                  


A Little girl (infected by Ebola) was left on the sidewalk by her aunt to die.
Courtesy of NY Times

Today, September 16, 2014, it is estimated that over 2,400 people have died of Ebola in West Africa, and more than half of whom are Liberians. This is a serious disease, yet there is an unsettling amount of confusion among Liberians. As health professionals like Dr. Mosoka Fallah – who grew up in Monrovia and is heroically battling Ebola with his countrymen – fight to educate Liberians about this disease, conspiracy theorists are undermining their efforts with lies that imperil the lives of Liberians. I hope to convey the truth to Liberians and put an end to the dangerous rumors that threaten the very future of our still-healing country.

Where does Ebola come from? Ebola was first discovered in Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1976. Fruit bats are known to be the first carriers of the disease, which was spread to humans through interaction with one of these infected bats. Other animals, such as monkeys, forest antelope and porcupines, which may have eaten fruit dropped by infected bats, can also spread the disease to humans.

How is Ebola transmitted? Ebola is caused by direct contact with infected blood, secretions, and other bodily fluids. If you touch someone living or dead infected with Ebola, you risk contracting the disease. In densely populated areas, the disease can easily be spread on crowded public transportation like taxis and buses. The best solution is to keep infected persons isolated and get them treatment as soon as possible. This is why health workers have worked so hard and so courageously to keep patients with Ebola at community health clinics, where they can get the treatment that could save them and, at the same time, protect their own families and the rest of the community from spreading and contracting the disease.

How do you know if you should go to the health clinic? Symptoms including fever, fatigue, sore throat, headache, vomiting and diarrhea may be early warning signs of the Ebola virus. Those experiencing these symptoms should seek medical attention immediately. The sooner Liberians go to the health clinic, the better we can protect our families, communities and our country.

These are the facts of the disease, yet some people are either intentionally or recklessly scaring Liberians into mistrusting health workers who have come to help. A recent example is Dr. Cyril Broderick who should be ashamed of himself and his writings. He should be a trusted member of the academic community, yet he is abusing this trust by trumpeting bogus conspiracy theories as fact and misleading Liberians about Ebola, saying that the United States created Ebola as a bioweapon and telling Liberians to resist help from Western countries. This is dangerous and embarrassing, considering how much the United States has done in the last few months to help us eradicate Ebola, not to mention his level of education.

 

He wrote:

"The World Health Organization (WHO) and several other UN Agencies have been implicated in selecting and enticing African countries to participate in the testing events, promoting vaccinations, but pursuing various testing regiments. The August 2, 2014 article, West Africa: What are US Biological Warfare Researchers Doing in the Ebola Zone? by Jon Rappoport of Global Research pinpoints the problem that is facing African governments. 
 
Obvious in this and other reports are, among others: 
 
(a) The US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID), a well-known centre for bio-war research, located at Fort Detrick, Maryland; 
 
(b) Tulane University, in New Orleans, USA, winner of research grants, including a grant of more than $7 million the National Institute of Health (NIH) to fund research with the Lassa viral hemorrhagic fever; 
 
(c) the US Center for Disease Control (CDC); 
 
(d) Doctors Without Borders (also known by its French name, Medicins Sans Frontiers); 
 
(e) Tekmira, a Canadian pharmaceutical company;  
 
(f) The UK’s GlaxoSmithKline; and 
 
(g) the Kenema Government Hospital in Kenema, Sierra Leone. 
 
Reports narrate stories of the US Department of Defense (DoD) funding Ebola trials on humans, trials which started just weeks before the Ebola outbreak in Guinea and Sierra Leone. The reports continue and state that the DoD gave a contract worth $140 million dollars to Tekmira, a Canadian pharmaceutical company, to conduct Ebola research. This research work involved injecting and infusing healthy humans with the deadly Ebola virus. Hence, the DoD is listed as a collaborator in a “First in Human” Ebola clinical trial (NCT02041715, which started in January 2014 shortly before an Ebola epidemic was declared in West Africa in March. Disturbingly, many reports also conclude that the US government has a viral fever bioterrorism research laboratory in Kenema, a town at the epicentre of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The only relevant positive and ethical olive-branch seen in all of my reading is that Theguardian.com reported, “The US government funding of Ebola trials on healthy humans comes amid warnings by top scientists in Harvard and Yale that such virus experiments risk triggering a worldwide pandemic.” That threat still persists."
 

Dr. Broderick, your words will kill Liberians, and you should correct your statements and apologize to the entire country. Otherwise, you are only discrediting yourself.

The notion that the US caused Ebola is absurd and stupid. In fact, the current Liberian President has requested assistance from the United States, and it is delivering. For starters, the US has pledged $100 million dollars to help us through this crisis and is in the process of approving an additional $88 million to the CDC’s efforts in West Africa. President Obama just announced that the US will assist in constructing as many as 17 Ebola treatment centers with approximately 1,700 treatment beds as well as an Ebola command post in Monrovia staffed with 3,000 military personnel to supply medical and logistical support to the region. By doing this, the US is putting their own citizens at risk of contracting the disease with their Liberian brethren.

The US Department of Defense has also made the Ebola outbreak its number one priority because the safety of Liberia and our West African neighbors is at risk. In the past, they funded $140 million to research treatment for the Ebola virus, and because of this investment, we are now close to developing a vaccine for the virus. The DOD’s highly trained health care services will help us address Ebola head on. Without it, Ebola could get the better of us.

After years of civil war, our country’s health system is weak, and we don’t have the resources we need to fight this deadly disease. We need the international community to help us contain the disease now and rebuild our country’s hospitals and clinics so that we are better prepared for outbreaks in the future.

The dissemination of bogus claims and unfounded sensational allegations such as Dr. Broderick’s only serve to create an unstable and distrusting environment for medical workers to operate – the true heroes in this war against Ebola. Instead of using energy to spread false accusations and rumors that serve to undermine the effort against Ebola, we need to build trust, inform Liberians of the symptoms and ways to avoid contracting and spreading the disease. We need to communicate with our citizens that they should remain vigilant, stay calm, and take heed to health workers. This is what we should be doing instead of breeding distrust as Dr. Broderick and others are attempting to do.

We must encourage our doctors, educators and community leaders to assist us in the fight against the disease and the lies surrounding it. Not only the virus, but the misinformation surrounding it, continues to spread throughout West Africa, and especially in Liberia.

Liberia cannot beat Ebola on its own. We have already lost too many of our Liberian brothers and sisters and cannot stand to lose any more. Working together within our Liberian and international community will help us solve the Ebola crisis that affects us all. We must trust those who have come to help us, for this is the only way we will survive.


The Author: Jones N. Williams can be reached at: mail@newliberiafoundation.org



Moses
Thank you. This man is a disgrace to educated people everywhere. I do not know why they still have that piece of foolishness up unless Liberian observer seem to agree with him. This man should be laughed out of academia.To have someone at that level of education write conspiracy theories and take a fictional thriller to be true is pathetic.
Moses at 02:37AM, 2014/09/17.
Amos Johshua
Sylvester Moses,

Are you now afraid to publish your full name after someone on this site reminded you of your involvement in the brutal murder of the late journalist John Vambo when according to you then served as national security adviser to Amos Sawyer? In fact, we thought you said you "would never again look at this site"!

Well, before vilifying Dr. Broderick who is simply giving his professional candid opinion which he has rights to, you should explain to us why your pay master Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, who, according to this site, "at a ceremony in Kakata said she "rejected their(CDC AND WHO) arithmetic projections and dismissed the position of the WHO without being mindful that she had a responsibility to put forth a different set of data whose conclusion would relate a different narrative."

She even went further and said: "I do not accept the prediction of some of our partners that say ten thousand, twenty thousand people will die, no! Say no to that. Tell them that may be their arithmetic projection, but we will solve Ebola so that we do not have those kind of people dying. That's our challenge; that's our responsibility; that's our commitment that we must make to prove them wrong." YOU NEED YOUR HEART AND HEAD RE-EXAMINED, SYLVESTER MOSES!
Amos Johshua at 03:52AM, 2014/09/17.
Pete Zubawu
Mr. Jones Nhinson Williams,

DON´T BE NAIVE! BEWARE OF GREEKS BEARING GIFTS! TODAY THE WORLD KNOWS HOW HIV/AIDS CAME! EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE SUPPORTS DR. BRODERICKS POSITION!HIS IS REPRESENTATIVE OF THE PATRIOTIC AND INTELLIGENT MIND! YOURS IS THE REFLECTION OF THE SIMPLE MINDED!

Why do you think Liberia says she does not trust the intentions of the Russians in helping Liberia fight the ebola disease, or Why do you think the Iranians are now saying "the Americans´ hands are dirty" and so they (Iran, Iraq, Syria) attacked by the ISI cannot trust the intentions of the Americans,

Mr. Nhinson, not been naive or voicing one´s opposition or caveats based on empirical evidences even at those coming to your aid, is the mark of the intelligent mind, for one cannot actually know the nature of the intentions of the one coming to help!

It is of the nature of academic or professional life to take exception or be skeptical. Thus, its your naivety that is dangerous and embarrassing, and not Dr. Broderick´s position which proves and or confirms the position of an intelligent mind.
Pete Zubawu at 06:06AM, 2014/09/17.
Abraham Zazay Kollie
Professor Broderick is just one of the unfortunate Liberian educated person who use their education to cause dange and harm for their people and country.

Thank you Mr. Williams, you are a true patriot. We hope Liberia can many people like you.
Abraham Zazay Kollie at 02:47PM, 2014/09/17.
Abraham Zazay Kollie
Abraham Zazay Kollie wrote:
Professor Broderick is just one of the unfortunate Liberian educated persons who uses his education to cause danger and harm for their people and country.


Thank you Mr. Williams. You are a true patriot. We hope Liberia can have many people like you.


Abraham Zazay Kollie at 02:49PM, 2014/09/17.
Amos Frank
Abraham Zazay,

It is green horns like you who would even destroy your own children for material gains ...whether commodities or otherwise.

If you knew how the ebola disease came to Africa or this time to Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone, or you at least had any actual knowledge about the international milieu, you would not make such silly utterances.

If Liberia in particular, and Africa in general, had enough sound thinkers as Dr. Cyril Broderick, this ebola disease would have not been planted in Africa or Liberia, and now even confined to Africa.
Amos Frank at 09:49PM, 2014/09/17.
Ryan
Will be praying for your safe ruetrn. How time flies. I imagine it would be like you left yesterday and now it is all over. We look forward to seeing each of you soon. Blessings and love.
Ryan at 05:12AM, 2015/10/16.
Sefa
It was fun to revisit those Sesame Street cahtacrers through your post, Elaine. And I'm glad you enjoyed my post, especially since (as I discovered on yours) you're the one who started this People in Your Neighbourhood blog post idea.
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